Give us a call
RCMP Staff Sgt. Chris Murphy reported to council on policing priorities for the new fiscal year and asked for any feedback. The four main areas of focus of the past year will continue: drug trafficking, property crime (which is related to the first), police visibility in communities and road safety.
“We’ve had some fairly good success,” Murphy said, but added that whenever police remove a criminal from the scene, others seem to pop up to engage in similar activities.
Part of the drug focus will be doing presentations on fentanyl; one is planned for Smith, although no date has been set.
Staff levels are good at the detachment right now, Murphy said (actually one above full complement), but that may be changing. One thing that reduces the amount of time officers can spend out on patrol is paperwork; there’s a lot of it and most of it has to be done in the office.
Councillor Brad Pearson spoke of an incident in which somebody’s house was ransacked when the owners were away. Neighbours have to help, he said.
“Pick up the phone and call when you see something that doesn’t look right,” he said. “It’s definitely a community effort.”
As for any concerns councillors may have, “send me an email,” Murphy said. “Give me a call.”
Council heard that the FireSmart Committee (which is a regional tri-council body) hopes to create a new position called FireSmart Coordinator. This person would handle FireSmart educational programs, as well as the annual wildfire hazard reduction activities.
Councillor Darren Fulmore started things off by saying he was not comfortable approving a position without having a job description. It’s actually up to the tri-council to approve it, but the proposal is coming before the three individual councils first to, “get the ball rolling,” as CAO Allan Winarski said.
“It’s more than full-time job,” said reeve Murray Kerik.
Apparently there have been requests from outside the area for FireSmart education. Training sessions could be a source of revenue for the FireSmart Committee, said councillor Skrynyk.
Fulmore made a motion to table the matter, pending more information, which was passed.
Returning officer appointed
Per legislation, council appointed a returning officer for this year’s municipal election. She’s Alanis Marleau. She and Lana Spencer will both take the training – Spencer as the back-up.
The election is in October.
Sea-can at the complex
Councillor Pearson asked council to consider a request by the Widewater Athletic Association to place a metal shipping container on the Widewater Complex grounds. One has been offered free of charge by a local company, he said. It’s (the complex) the M.D.’s property, and it has to decide if it wants it, and under what circumstances. The container would replace a wooden storage shed that is in bad shape.
Council approved the idea and M.D. administration will work with the association on a plan.
Municipal working group
Councillor Fulmore reminded his colleagues and administration of an idea that had arisen at a strategic planning session some time ago: that being that councillors and senior admin. people should get together once in a while and talk about priorities, or as Fulmore put it specifically, “areas of mutual concern.”
“I think it’s a good move,” said reeve Kerik.
“It’s a great thing,” said councillor Esau. “The more we can be on the same page, the better it is.”
“It’s probably better than what we’re doing right now,” said councillor Skrynyk.
Lyle Farris informed council the backup generator at the Sawridge First Nation site was working well after an upgrade to the regulator. The original one had been too small, he said.
“It was commissioned yesterday and it’s cruising right along,” he said.
Light at the end of the tunnel?
CAO Allan Winarski had good news on Poplar Lane.
“We’ve settled out with Martushev Logging,” he said. “We agreed on a final payment. There’ll be no further claims by them on the M.D. We managed to close the door on that.”
This was not a happy chapter and council is no doubt relieved it is closed. Or almost closed. There’s still the matter of engineering costs on the road reconstruction project, which ballooned to very big number when all was said and done. The M.D., it appears, isn’t quite ready to pay up.
“We want AMEC to review what they did on this job,” said Winarski.
Council accordingly passed a motion by Mike Skrynyk, “to see if we can come to an agreement on the cost of this project.”
“How realistic is it?” asked councillor Brad Pearson, to expect a reduction in the engineering bill.
“It’s been heated,” said Winarski, referring to the discussions. “But the reality is we’re a long-term client. I think there’s an opportunity we should be eligible for a reduction.”
Council approved a new and relatively inexpensive type of resurfacing for the West Mitsue Road, Tollenaar Bridge and the M.D. office and parking lot. It had been budgeted at $812,000, but the low bid came in at $631,000. It’s a new method, called ‘fibre-reinforced micro-surfacing,’ by a company called West-Can Seal Coating Inc. The price includes line painting.
Councillors were pleased with the price, but not happy that only one bid was received. However, they went ahead and approved it.
Council had another bid to approve – this time for the replacement of six aging pickup trucks. Whitecap Motors had the low bid at $212,847 for white, or $2,970 more than that for a blue colour.
The bid also included an option of spending $1,380 more ($230 per vehicle) for electronic four-wheel drive shifters, rather than the manual, floor-mounted ones.
Councillors were happy enough to take the low bid – but wrangled quite a bit over the extras. Blue isn’t practical, said councillor Mike Skrynyk. On the other hand, “there’s something to be said for being a little different,” said councillor Robert Esau. “We get confused with Carillion all the time.”
Councillor Brad Pearson had no use at all for the electronic shifting system. “It’s crap!” he said.
Reeve Kerik disagreed and said his works just fine. The case for the electronic shifter was not clearly laid out in the report for council, but they went for it, along with blue over white, by a 4 – 2 vote. Pearson and Skrynyk were the dissenting voters.
Moving toward pavement on Poplar Lane
The plan is to pave Poplar Lane this year, and council made the next step in that process by approving a contract for the engineering portion of the job. From a short list of three contenders they chose WSP Engineering – a familiar company with a local office that has done bridge work for the M.D. for years.
The amount – $106,920 – was “surprisingly reasonable,” in the view of transportation department director Bill Klassen. It amounts, he said, to just three per cent of the total budgeted project cost.
Recharging rural women
Peggy Laing made the case for an allocation of M.D. FCSS funds for a women’s conference in Smith next month. Called ‘Rural Women Recharge’ it will be a one-day affair on April 8, featuring motivational speaker Monica Knight.
Laing said they got Knight for a discount, because she’d already received part of her fee from the organizers of a canceled volunteer conference in Slave Lake last fall. Council approved “up to” $4,000.
“It’s going to be a fun day!” Laing predicted.
Pearson to library conference
Councillor Pearson asked for and received the approval of council for him to attend the provincial libraries conference in Jasper. He represents M.D. council on the regional library board.